Shy Colors and Colors that Shout

Pigments, like people, display a great variety of personalities.  Apparently some tempera painters eschew Thalo blue, given the way it overpowers all other colors in admixtures. When I am adding it to another color, I employ the tip of a toothpick to bring in minute quantities at a time.  Otherwise, the whole world quickly turns blue. 

On the other hand, the shy Potter's Pink whispers its  transparent way onto the painting. In the realm of egg tempera painting, there is a place for such gentle colors amid the cacophony of  louder pigment voices. 

Sempre Tempera

Sempre, meaning "always," concerns the double-edged sword I have found this medium to be. Because you can apply paint layers endlessly, your painting can be in play always, never reaching a point beyond which you cannot go.  Compare this to watercolor, which will go muddy and ugly if you try to paint too many layers or go back over an area too many times.  

The wonderfully accommodating tempera medium, however, permits of innumerable new strokes, layers, etc.  You can go back and forth between light and dark, opaque and transparent, warm and cool to your heart's content.  This freedom, however, is both a great boon and a great bane, as you could tinker endlessly and never actually finish a painting.  

Note to self: must stop temporizing with my current painting. 

Having a Tempera Tandem

It occurred to me that my chosen tempera paints seem to be pairing off. While watercolor or oil painting might have a single color called "raw umber," the egg tempera use of dry pigments mixed with egg yolk allows alternative versions.  

I am enjoying having two different raw umbers in the same painting: Cyprus raw umber is warmer, while Italian raw umber is cooler and darker. Or Nicosia green earth is noticeably cooler than Verona green earth. Prussian blue has its own oddball color cast compared to Thalo blue, and together they make for elegant close hues in the same sky.  This two-by-two approach could be dubbed "The Noah's Ark Palette."

Tempera Mental

Old dog learning new tricks--it's been fascinating delving into the exotic medium of egg tempera painting.  A printmaker's "incrementalist" approach to making zillions of dots and lines is quite analogous to building an egg tempera painting with countless tiny brushstrokes. It seems to involve the same sort of "tempera" ment.     Sorry for the plethora o' puns.